Phylicia Rashad’s support for Bill Cosby highlights division in black community
In the case of the 83-year-old actor, it’s actually dozens of women – the majority of them white – over several years who have alleged sexual misconduct by Cosby dating back decades. (Cosby has always denied the allegations.)
Long before Cosby was convicted and sentenced in 2018 to three to 10 years in state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at her home in 2004, there had been a lot of debate about his guilt and innocence.
But nowhere more than in the black community, where Cosby had counted so much as an artist and education advocate.
America’s Favorite Dad
“The Cosby Show” was revolutionary television.
Aired from 1984 to 1992 on NBC, the sitcom depicts an upper-middle-class black family devoid of the usual stereotypes often attributed to black characters in Hollywood.
Cosby portrayed Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable, an obstetrician and patriarch of five children. Rashad played the matriarch, lawyer Clair Huxtable.
He embodied the parent that many who grew up in the tumultuous 80s as turnkey kids, or those whose dad is more absent than Huxtable, wished they had.
As beloved as Cosby’s Dr Huxtable was, so was Clair de Rashad. Deeply loving wife, she has been a role model for Huxtable children (portrayed by Sabrina Le Beauf, Lisa Bonet, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe and Keshia Knight Pulliam) and portrayed a strong black feminist in a television landscape with little.
This image seemed to contrast sharply with some when Rashad tweeted “FINALLY !!!! A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s conviction on Wednesday.
‘What are you thinking about’
#ByePhylicia (a reference to the slogan âBye Feliciaâ made popular by the 1995 hit movie âFridayâ) started to become a trend and another famous TV mom even took to the floor.
Rashad sought to clarify his position amid the backlash, tweeting “I fully support survivors of sexual assault who come forward.”
“My post was in no way intended to be indifferent to their truth,” she wrote. “Personally, I know from my friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My sincere wish is to be cured.”
But not everyone disagreed with Rashad’s support for Cosby.
âShe told the truth! one person commented.
âDean Rashad didn’t do anything wrong! Another defender wrote.
It’s indicative of the division that has existed since the allegations against Cosby first became widespread in 2014, when a video of comedian Hannibal Buress speaking about Cosby went viral.
From the start, there was utter disbelief within the black community that a man of Cosby’s stature could have done something so heinous.
Black male celebrities like Cosby often rally when accused of wrongdoing as they become attorneys for the many black men unjustly accused and prosecuted in this country.
History also tells us that while the #MeToo momentum may have helped grease the wheels that led to Cosby’s conviction, the overturning of that conviction was in part reminiscent of OJ Simpson’s 1995 trial. , who was eventually acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife. Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
It is that rich and powerful black men can perform better in the legal system – a fact that seems less open to debate than their actual guilt or innocence.